Aladdin: About the Theater
Disney’s newest smash hit, Aladdin, has taken over the former home of Mary Poppins, The New Amsterdam Theatre, where it continues its hugely successful run.
The New Amsterdam was originally constructed in 1903, designed in the Art Nouveau style by the architecture firm of Herts & Tallant. When it was built, it boasted the title of the largest Broadway theatre, with a seating capacity of 1,702 seats. The New Amsterdam and the Lyceum Theatre -- also built in 1903 -- are the oldest theatres on Broadway today that are still fully operational.
It is probably best known as the locale for the famous Ziegfeld Follies, showcasing such classic talents as Fanny Brice and Olive Thomas, but it opened with a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the fall of 1903.
During the Great Depression, when the entirety of the theatre industry took a serious hit, the New Amsterdam closed. It only remained that way for a year, however, and was reopened in 1937 on a limited basis, and was quickly converted into a movie theatre. The Nederlander Organization purchased the space in 1982, but it didn’t reopen as a proper theatre until eight years later. In 1993, Disney Theatrical Productions signed a 99-year lease for the property, and spent many years and several million dollars to restore the space to its former glory.
The theatre finally reopened on April 2, 1997 with Disney’s production of The Lion King -- though that show moved up the block to the Minskoff Theatre in 2006. Mary Poppins remained in that space until quite recently, when Aladdin took over.